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The Secular Coalition for America, a new lobbying group for “non-theistic Americans” that announced plans in June to establish a presence throughout the country, has officially launched its California chapter.

The stated aim of the group is to advocate for the “secular character of our government,” strengthening divisions between government and religious groups.

“We rely on governmental laws, regulations and guidelines to maintain that core principle of the United States, namely freedom of speech,” said executive board co-chair Roger Schlueter in a release. “The Secular Coalition for America is uniquely important in shaping and guarding these tools to ensure that the wall of separation between church and state remains robust.”

For support, the group points to a Pew study that finds less than half of Californians view religion as “very important” to their lives, ranking the state 35th in the national average. Only a third of state residents say that they attend religious services on a regular basis.

“It is time that the non-religious community had a real voice in the halls of government," says Caleb Weaver, the other co-chair of the California chapter. "The Secular Coalition for California is going to provide a critical new perspective in a number of public discussions.”

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